Thursday 25 June 2009

Moves to free Australian Public Sector Information

The Victorian Parliament’s Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee (“EDIC”) has released a report recommending the freeing of access to Public Sector Information. Bruce Bannerman and I tabled an OSGeo submission for this report, as did a number of other enlightened organisations.
Anne Fitzgerald summarises the situation well, (note that Anne has submitted an abstract about Open Data for the FOSS4G conference):
I, Brian Fitzgerald and other research collaborators (including those working within the Queensland Treasury’s Office of Economic and Statistical Research) made verbal and written submissions, which are extensively referred to with approval by the committee throughout its report. This is a very important report, as it is the first in Australia to consider in depth the issue of access to Public Sector Information, and is likely to provide the template for work by the Federal and other [Australian] State/Territory governments. The report recommends that the Victorian Government should establish an Information Management Framework, with open access to Government information at no or marginal cost as the default position.
Donna Benjamin noted on the Open Source Industries Australia email list some of the Open Source highlights:
Recommendation 42: That the Victorian Government require, as part of its whole-of-government ICT Procurement Policy, that software procured by the Government be capable of saving files in open standard formats, and that wherever possible, the software be configured to save in open standard formats by default.

Recommendation 43: That the Victorian Government ensure when preparing guidance for procurement, ICT personnel should be equally aware of the strengths and weaknesses of both OSS and proprietary software.

Recommendation 44: That the Victorian Government fully evaluate the Victorian Department of Justice open source software (OSS) workstation trial to assess the potential for wider use of OSS in Victorian public service workstations.

Recommendation 45: That the Victorian Government examine its policy for ICT Procurement to ensure that it continues to assist the Victorian ICT industry.

Recommendation 46: That the Victorian Government ensure where appropriate that tenders are neither licence specific nor have proprietary software-specific requirements; and meet the given objectives of Government.

For further information, read the press release at:
The report itself is at

OSGeo at Spatial@Gov conference, Canberra, Australia

The Aust-NZ OSGeo local chapter set up and OSGeo booth at the Spatial@Gov conference a few days back, and I gave a well attended Geospatial Open Source presentation. The conference attracted ~ 200 delegates and covered:
The conference was particularly encouraging for people interested in "Open Technologies". It was opened by Senator Kate Lundy, who is making a name for herself in Australia around Open Government (and who is also a keynote speaker at the FOSS4G conference in October). Then most of the presentations I attended mentioned Open Standards. In particular, there is a strong push to develop a "Spatial Marketplace" which is effectively a Spatial Data Infrastructure. I was pleasantly surprised to hear ~ 30% of the presentations mention how agencies are deploying Open Source software. And there was regular mention about how agencies are following Queensland's initiatives moving government data to Creative Commons licenses. (There are abstracts on this at FOSS4G too).
Thanks to the following people for helping to man the OSGeo stand:
  • Milton Lofberg & Autodesk for sponsoring the booth
  • Cameron Shorter (me) and LISAsoft for providing fliers and giving an Open Source presentation
  • Bruce Bannerman
  • Shoaib Burq
  • Plus a couple of others who dropped by for a bit

Wednesday 24 June 2009

FOSS4G abstract voting explained

A number of people from the OSGeo community have questioned whether the FOSS4G abstract selection could be unfairly biased or rigged through the community voting process. In particular, there were concerns with our last "tongue in cheek" communication suggesting authors encourage their friends to vote for their presentations. In retrospect, the message should have focused on inviting people to review all presentations and promoting FOSS4G.

However, to ally concerns about bias, we feel it is important to be transparent about the abstract selection process, which for the general track will be as follows:

  1. Call for abstracts, including promotion in a number of areas.
  2. Abstract submission deadline.
  3. Chase abstracts from a few presenters who had indicated they wanted to present but forgot to submit an abstract.
  4. Ask the community to rank abstracts.
  5. Abstract selection committee to review community rankings. Some minor adjustments may be made to:
    1. Ensure there is a suitable selection of presentations for each of the specific FOSS4G user groups: Techies, Government & Private CIOs, Academic, Regional delegates. It is expected that most voters will fall into the techie user group, while half the delegates will likely fit into the Regional and/or CIO group.
    2. Any obvious rigging should be avoided.
    3. Endeavor to avoid having duplicates of the same presentation, and possibly encourage presenters with similar topics to combine their presentations or change the slant of their presentation. We want to encourage a depth of presentations.
    4. Focus on the conference theme of "User Driven".

Information on how the academic papers will be assessed and selected can be found here:

The Open Source community has a reputation for honesty, trust and good will, which we expect will be prevalent throughout the FOSS4G conference. While we will be vigilant, we don't expect to see much blatant rigging of the voting system from the community.

Friday 19 June 2009

Get your friends to vote for your FOSS4G abstract

With 170 quality abstracts vying for 96 slots at the international FOSS4G conference, there is a lot competition for air-time. Some innovative presenters are stacking the odds in their favour by inviting their friends to vote for their presentation on their blogs and email lists.

If you have submitted a presentation, I'd encourage you to do the same, and don't forget to give FOSS4G a plug while you are at it.

To vote, follow the link here:

For instructions on how to vote, please refer to the voting page on the Conference website or

Tuesday 16 June 2009

FOSS4G proposed papers out - vote for your favourite

The list of proposed papers for FOSS4G can be viewed at:

You can now vote on the papers you'd like to see at FOSS4G 2009! We have had over 170 abstract submissions. Have your say on what you would like to see at the conference. You can read the abstracts and cast your votes for your preferred papers. Voting is open now and will close on Sunday 28th June.
To vote follow the link here:

For instructions on how to vote, please refer to the voting page on the Conference website or
Successful authors will be notified on the 20th of July. A preliminary program will be in place by August.

Friday 12 June 2009

OGC Call for Sponsors: Climate Challenge Integration Plugfest at FOSS4G

The Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC®), the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) are conducting a Climate Challenge Integration Plugfest (CCIP) to be launched at the FOSS4G (Free, Open Source Software for Geospatial) Conference in Sydney, Australia, 20-23 October, 2009 (

The OGC is seeking CCIP sponsors. Prospective sponsors are invited to contact the OGC to discuss providing requirements and resources. Sponsors will be involved in developing the CCIP test plan and the plugfest event. Participation is open to all software vendors, programmers and system integrators regardless of whether their software is open source or proprietary.

More details at: